When I was a kid, I drove my parents crazy making things. Old tissue boxes became bassinets for dolls. Discarded socks became Barbie dresses. Those little plastic things that came on top of pizza? Perfect bistro tables for Lego guys. I fished things out of the garbage to make boats for GI Joes and zip lines for My Little Ponies. And my parents let me. Now I’m a parent, and I want to thank my folks for giving me space and support to create as a kid. What I know now, but didn’t then, was that tinkering with cardboard and yarn led me to a lifetime of creating solutions and making!
So, what is making? The wonderful thing about making is that it encompasses many arts, crafts, and tech. Making is part DIY, part hacking, with a healthy dose of invention. To quote Thomas Edison, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” Our kids have the first in spades, so we just need to provide the junk! Making allows us to learn by experimenting, doing and failing.
This summer at the Glazer Children’s Museum, we’re embracing maker culture in many ways. One of the stumbling blocks for many young makers is that their skill and their ideas may not align. The frustration of that misalignment can lead our young makers to give up. But making, and its sibling, tinkering, are the perfect spaces to practice perseverance. It can be hard for a child when their idea doesn’t work, so parents can help support them by pointing out what went well and asking questions to help the child find solutions. Remind your child that it’s OK to be frustrated and that you get frustrated too! Guiding them through the frustration will lead to a sense of accomplishment that will stick with them.
Now, to all of you thinking, “but I have no skills at this,” congratulations! You’re the right person for the job. When we teach a child “the right way” to make something, that’s great. But when we learn alongside our children, that’s magic. A child knows when you’re playing along and when you are genuinely engaged in something new. Don’t be afraid to fail in front of them. At the Museum this summer, we’ll have lots of tools, tech, gadgets and materials to play with, as well as helpers to give safety lessons and get you started. Come join us! Let’s make a better world together!
By Sarah Cole, Glazer Children’s Museum
Originally published in the July 2019 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.